Breach of Duty

Before discussing a breach of duty, it helps to understand the concept of a “duty.” 

A duty is the requirement to perform an act because of a personal commitment, custom, or moral obligation. A legal duty typically stems from the relationship between two parties. 

For example, a doctor owes their patients a duty of care to act within the standard of care set by the medical community. A property owner owes a duty of care to invitees and guests to maintain the property. Likewise, a restaurant owner owes a duty of care to customers to maintain the floors to prevent slip and fall accidents.

What is a Breach of the Duty of Care?

Breaching the duty of care is one of the main elements of a negligence claim. A person breaches the duty of care by failing to act with the level of care that a person of ordinary prudence would have used given the same or similar circumstances. Breaching the duty of care results in a risk of harm to another person but might not necessarily cause injury to that person.

For a plaintiff in a lawsuit to prove the defendant’s actions were negligent, the plaintiff must prove:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • The defendant has breached the duty of care through the defendant’s acts or omissions
  • The breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
  • The plaintiff incurred damages because of the breach of duty

Only when the plaintiff presents evidence that proves the defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury can the defendant be financially liable for the plaintiff’s damages.

How Does a Jury Decide if the Defendant Breached the Duty of Care?

Whether the defendant’s actions constitute a breach of duty is a question of fact for the jury. The jury must measure the defendant’s conduct against the conduct of a “reasonable person.” Unfortunately, the “reasonable person” is an arbitrary legal standard.

The reasonable person standard is based upon what the jurors believe a person of ordinary cautiousness, forethought, carefulness, and judgment would do in the same or similar circumstances. The jurors measure the defendant’s conduct to that of a reasonable person. If the defendant failed to meet the standard of care, the defendant breached the duty of care and is negligent.

The standard may change in some circumstances. For example, a child or mentally disabled person might not be held to the same standard of care as an ordinary adult.

Damages Available for a Negligence Claim

When you prove all four elements of negligence, including breach of duty, you should be entitled to recover damages for your economic damages and non-economic damages

These damages include, but are not limited to:

  • Reimbursement for loss of income and benefits, including compensation for future lost wages and reductions in earning potential
  • The cost of in-home personal care and nursing care
  • Reimbursement for the cost of medical treatment and care, including surgeries, hospitalizations, and therapies
  • The cost of medications and medical equipment
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses to medical appointments
  • Pain and suffering damages, including reduced quality of life, physical pain, emotional distress, impairments, disabilities, mental anguish, and scarring

The value of your injury claim may increase if you sustain permanent disabilities because of the accident. However, if you were partially to blame for the cause of your injury, your compensation could be reduced under Florida’s comparative fault laws. 

Call Now for a Free Consultation with an Experienced Fort Walton Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

Being injured by another party should not cause you to experience financial hardships and lifelong consequences. But, unfortunately, that happens in many of the worst accident cases.

Regardless of the severity of your injuries or the complexity of your case, you deserve fair and just compensation for all damages. Our Fort Walton Beach personal injury attorneys fight to get you the money you deserve after an injury or accident.Call our law office today to schedule your free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case and how our legal team can help you.